The year would have been 1960, I believe. That would have put me at 12 years old and it was the first summer I worked on staff at Camp Yocona, BSA. That’s memorable for me because the minimum age for a staff member was 15. An exception was made for me because I knew Morse Code backwards and forwards and I knew a good method for teaching it. The camp needed a Morse Code instructor. My scoutmaster was the camp director that year, so he did some rule bending and I spent my summer at Camp Yocona.
Teaching Morse Code only occupied a couple of hours each day, which left me time to spend at the rifle range. I began working my way through the NRA Junior Marksmanship program, earning patches and also qualifying for the Rifle Shooting merit badge.
I got to know the gentleman who ran the rifle range quite well. His name was Lum (yes, I have that right) Barnes and he was a farmer from somewhere around Booneville, MS. Lum was patient with me, teaching me the ins and outs of sighting, breathing and trigger control. At the end of the summer he told me some of the camp’s rifles were being replaced and the old ones were for sale. “How much?” I asked, having earned no money for the summer as the staff jobs were all volunteer. He offered the Remington 514 that I had been using for my patch earning for $4. I was able to come up with $4. Lum told me if I had another $2 I could also take home a Marlin 80 that was missing it’s magazine, so had to be used as a single. Two single shot, bolt action .22s for $6 seemed quite a bargain to me.
Indeed it was as I still have both guns and have learned quite a bit from them. First has to do with sighting. Throughout the summer I had adjusted my sighting using the Remington because I had learned that hitting the bullseye required my aiming two inches to the left and one inch down. I hadn’t shot the Marlin, so I didn’t know it’s aiming quirks but I did learn that I could buy a magazine for it from Numrich gun parts. When I started shooting the rifle, it wouldn’t eject. Numrich had an ejector for it, as well. Both rifles needed their stocks refinished and to be re-blued. Using Birchwood Casey bluing and stock refinishing products, I turned both rifles into pretty nice examples.
The sighting on the Remington turned out to be an excellent learning experience. When I took the class to become an NRA Basic Pistol Instructor and learned for the first time in my life about eye dominance, I discovered that although I’m right-handed, I’m left eye dominant. When I sighted the Remington from left shoulder I discovered the sights were right on the money.
Both rifles have required extractor/ejector replacement over the years, but they shoot fine and are used to introduce others to shooting sports.
When I left home at age 22 to join the Army, I had five firearms: a couple of .22 rifles bought as surplus from Boy Scout Camp, two inherited shotguns and a .22 revolver. These firearms had always been like fishing rods, pocketknives or hand tools — used when needed, then cleaned and put away. We never thought of needing a firearm for self-defense back in those days. There were only four bad guys in the whole county. I knew who they were and stayed away from them. Warning, Dr. Dabbs, one of them has a son who lives in your neck of the woods.
In the Army I went through M16 qualification, but my job after training was to fly a helicopter. When we got shot at, my crewmembers shot back. I just flew. After the Army I flew twenty-something years as a corporate pilot. While flying for computer companies, I was cross-trained in computer hardware and software. All this time I was living in the city and the guns stayed in a closet. When my three sons got old enough to go dove hunting, they wanted to, so we needed another shotgun. It just so happened I was doing contract programming at the time for a sporting goods distributor who also had a gun store. I bought a Winchester M1300 at employee pricing, but even at six guns I didn’t consider myself a collector.
The Lure Of A Blackhawk.
In 1999 I walked by the gun counter at that same gun store and did a double take at something I saw in the used gun display cabinet — a Ruger Blackhawk with a 10.5″ barrel, looking like new with a price tag of $300. Three hundred dollars was something I could justify for such a fine looking cowboy gun. The salesman seemed to be cautioning me when he said, “You know this is a .357 Maximum, right?” I must have nodded my head or something. I didn’t know what a .357 Maximum was and didn’t care. I’d dreamed of owning a Blackhawk ever since my cousin back home killed a deer with his .44 Magnum Blackhawk. And this one was almost a Buntline Special. When I took the gun home my wife asked me what it was for. “I don’t know,” I told her, “I guess home defense.” When I started figuring out what ammo I needed to try it out was when I discovered what the .357 Maximum was all about. I knew it was okay to shoot .357 Magnum and .38 Special rounds in the gun, but I wanted to shoot .357 Maximum rounds. Using the Internet and a search engine called Yahoo, I located some .357 Maximum reloads being sold by Old Western Scrounger. I got some, shot some and decided .357 Magnum was enough for me.
I didn’t shoot the Blackhawk much. Honestly, I didn’t cotton to the concept of a gun range where you paid to shoot. The only time in my life I had shot at a gun range before the Army was at Boy Scout Camp. You just went out in the pasture and shot. Or if you lived in town, you drove a mile or two outside the city limits on any highway and found a creek bed, sand ditch or old gravel pit. A few miles further and there was a National Forest, which in those days had none of the restrictions on shooting they seem to have these days. Now I lived in the city and it took some adjustments, but I finally found a gun range where I could shoot my Blackhawk. It wasn’t long before that long barrel started feeling heavy to me. I decided to order a replacement barrel from Ruger, only to learn Ruger doesn’t send out barrels. You send them the gun and they’ll put a new barrel on it. Then I learned something else. If you send them a .357 Maximum, they won’t send it back. They’ll work out some sort of equitable trade, but there had been a recall on the .357 Maximum years earlier. I chose not to send my gun to Ruger. I was just starting to learn about forums. Google and Wikipedia did not yet exist and I didn’t at that time know anyone at Ruger that would tell me their side of the story.
.357 Maximum History.
Through reading some stuff online, I’m sure much of it conjecture, I figured out what the .357 Maximum was all about and why Ruger decided to bow out of it. Elgin “Butch” Gates was an internationally known trophy hunter and the author of The Gun Digest Book of Metallic Silhouette Shooting. In order to bang metallic silhouettes of various animals farther and farther away using a handgun, Gates developed a wildcat cartridge he called the .357 SuperMag. From that cartridge Remington and Ruger worked together to develop the .357 Maximum with a SAAMI pressure of 40,000 psi pushing a 158 grain bullet at 1,825 fps or a 180 grain bullet at 1,550 fps. Ruger designed a Blackhawk for the task and Remington manufactured the ammo. Apparently handloaders, not satisfied with the already powerful ballistic profile of the manufactured cartridges, started pushing the limits, which resulted in damage to some of the handguns in the form of top strap and forcing cone burning. Ruger, wanting no part in having production revolvers with their name on it being so damaged, issued a recall, offering equal value in another production revolver. All of this happened six or seven years before I bought my revolver. It shows no indication of any top strap or forcing cone burning. Prior to my ownership, it doesn’t appear to have been fired much at all. I put maybe 20 or 30 rounds of .357 Maximum through it along with a box of .357 Magnum and a fair amount of .38 special. As much as I liked owning it, there was something not quite right about it that kept me from shooting it much. Then it hit me. It was that 10.5″ barrel. I’m not into handgun hunting or long-range target shooting with a handgun and that long barrel made the gun unwieldy to carry and out of balance to shoot.
It’s Good To Have Friends.
Jerry Colliver is a friend I met when we worked together at an insurance company in 2005–2006. Together the two of us worked through getting our concealed handgun permits and obtaining instructor ratings in various disciplines including NRA Basic Pistol and the Texas Concealed Handgun License. Up to that point in time, I’d never owned a semi-automatic handgun, but Jerry knew them well. He guided me through purchasing my first, a Taurus 24/7, and together we began teaching Hunter Education, NRA Basic Pistol and Texas Concealed Handgun License classes. Jerry was handy with a Dremel and other hand tools and helped me with the barrel shortening project. In fact, he did most of the work.
We measured 4.5″ back from the muzzle and marked the location to be cut with electrical tape. I wanted to make sure our cut was perfectly perpendicular, but Jerry assured me that at this point it only had to be close. Jerry cut the barrel with the Dremel using a carbide cutting disc. Next came touch-up work on a small grinder. After the grinding came hand filing to smooth out the effects from the grinder wheel, leaving the metal surface as shiny as possible.
The factory barrel end had an inside bevel around the bore and an outer bevel around the outer circumference of the barrel. Jerry used a stone with his Dremel tool to grind the inside bevel to match the factory original as closely as possible. Then he filed the outside bevel by hand, carefully eyeballing the width of the bevel to make sure it was even and consistent as he went around the barrel. Final touch-up on the outside bevel was done with the Dremel tool.
When the bevels were done, Jerry went back to the grinder, this time with a cloth wheel and rouge to polish the end of the barrel before bluing. There were several steps in the polishing process before Jerry was satisfied. He used a cloth polishing wheel attached to his vertical drill press, periodically coating the wheel with polishing compound. We blued the barrel, tapped out a hole for the sight mounting screw and put the front sight back on the gun.
A Training Tool.
The Blackhawk holds a special place in my training regimen for people who are serious about mastering handguns. At some point in their training I introduce them to the Blackhawk. I load the gun for them while they’re shooting a training exercise. That way they don’t see what I’m putting in the gun. I load two .38 Special rounds followed by two .357 Magnum rounds, then two .357 Maximum rounds. Locking the cylinder so shooting would start with the .38s, I hand the student the gun and ask them to shoot it until it runs dry. Naturally they’ll be aiming to please me, the instructor, and with the first two shots they generally do pretty well. The next two shots have a surprising amount of recoil, but most shooters stick with it and try to make good shots. When number five rolls around, they’re not expecting what comes down the pike. I stand close enough to catch the gun if they drop it because that shot is going to hit them like pulling both triggers on a double barrel twelve gauge. If I’m lucky enough to coach them through shooting one more time, their, “What was THAT?” question invokes a discussion on the effects of various calibers and loads on recoil. The explanation will hit home because of what they just experienced. Although they won’t be carrying .357 Maximums for personal defense, they will become aware of such differences as +P and normal ammo or .40 S&W compared to 9mm.
I now reload my own .357 Maximum rounds using a .357 Magnum die set adjusted for length. Remington and Starline both make brass and the caliber has found a home with T/C Contender and Dan Wesson Model 40 shooters. I’ve often wished someone would offer a lever action rifle in .357 Maximum. It seems close enough to the new .350 Legend cartridge to have filled that gap. The .357 Maximum has enough of a following that someday you may be banging steel silhouettes of various animals at 600 to 1,000 yards with a handgun. Just keep your loads within SAAMI specs and have fun!
This shotgun sat in Pop’s bedroom corner beside his armoire. Pop was my mother’s father. I’m pretty sure he never hunted during my lifetime. Everybody owned guns and Pop’s were the double-barrel shotgun, a .22 rifle and a Colt New Model Service revolver. As a kid I had no idea about the historical significance of his guns nor their value. Pop died at age 67 the year I was a senior in high school. He had been a great friend to me, and a supplier of horses to my cousins and me. His loss was tough. I wasn’t around when any decisions were made about passing down his guns, but somehow I ended up with the shotgun. One of my cousins got the rifle and my only living first cousin has the pistol.
This was a genuinely appreciated inheritance because I did a lot of bird hunting with my 16 gauge full choke Winchester Model 12 and the improved cylinder and modified choke barrels on the Lefever were much better suited for quail hunting. My uncle pointed out to me a problem with the Lefever’s choke, which was on the tang. If you weren’t very careful when pushing it on, it would go past the safe point to a position that would allow the gun to fire. Not only was I warned about that choke up front, I was reminded of it on every hunting trip where family was involved. Jeez, guys, I’ve got it!
To me the gun was just a gun to go hunting with until I got into the gun business and started inventorying and valuing my guns. Much of the bluing had worn off, leaving the finish shiny in places. The stock was scratched and gouged in various places. It certainly wasn’t a show piece, but it functioned fine and I managed to bring down a few birds with it on a regular basis. But there was something about the Lefever brand I learned from the Blue Book of Gun Values. The Lefever was the first commercially successful hammerless double barrel shotgun made in America. The company was in n Syracuse, NY from 1885 until 1916 when it was bought by the Ithaca Gun Company.
According to what I could determine through visiting the Lefever Collector’s Association website, my gun was made in 1908 and is a C Grade gun. Values in Blue Book are quite high for some of these guns and not so high for others. Guns matching the description and condition of mine have consistently sold in excess of $5,000 so whoever decided I should get Pop’s old shotgun did right by me and probably didn’t know it. Most of those relatives are gone now, so there won’t ever be any arguments about it. I’ve just included a recommendation in my notes about the gun that whoever inherits it should have it appraised by a qualified appraiser if they decide to sell it.
This is a story about my shotgun, the one I grew up with. It’s a 16 Gauge Winchester Model 12 with a 28″ Full Choke barrel. That barrel makes it duck gun, but I rarely hunted ducks. Instead, for me it was a squirrel, rabbit, dove and quail gun and I even killed one deer with it, that one in self-defense. I’ll get to that story down the road.
My Model 12 was originally given to Grandaddy Freeman by his former employees when he retired as Director of the Mississippi Game and Fish Commission. That would have been around 1948, the year I was born. Grandaddy engaged in a number of business ventures after his retirement, but apparently had lost interest in hunting so my dad wound up with the gun. Dad hunted with me when I was seven or eight to get me started and after that he just didn’t hunt much except for opening day of several dove seasons with his coworkers. When I was in the 5th grade, Dad told me I could have the Model 12 as he just wasn’t using it much.
I’d already been acquainted with the shotgun; it was the first real gun I ever shot. Dad had given me his old single-shot .410 when he began teaching me to hunt squirrels. But on our very first hunting trip, I was carrying my gun unloaded when Dad pointed out a dove in a tree. He told me, “We don’t normally shoot dove when they’re not flying, but they are in season and that one is just sitting in that tree right there. You can take a shot at him if you want to.” Since my gun wasn’t loaded, he handed me his 16 gauge Model 12 and coached me through lining up the sights and taking a shot. I remember that shot vividly. The gun knocked me on my butt and the dove flew off. The small branch he had been sitting on seemed mock me as it slowly fell to the ground. We didn’t know anything about cross-dominant eyes in those days, but I am strongly cross dominant and I believe I must have been leaning way over the gun to line my left eye up with the front sight, which is why I got such a wallop in the nose from the recoil. I now shoot that gun and all my other long guns left handed.
Guns tend to create memories in our lives if we shoot them much and my next memory happened right after Dad told me the 16 gauge could be my gun. I went home from school at lunch the next day to become more acquainted with my new gun. In the process of my examination I managed to slam the action closed the tip of my index finger. That little exercise in carelessness cost me a trip to the emergency room. My finger was bleeding like a stuck pig, but I managed to call my mother at work and she came home to help me. At the emergency room the doctor attempted to rejoin the skin on the tip of my finger and in order to do so he took a file and filed the bone smooth where the action had chipped it. My right index finger is now shorter than my left finger and I have a noticeable scar where the stitches were. That’s one of my “been there, done that” scars that is a reminder of how being careful around guns is more than just not having an accidental discharge and hitting something or someone you didn’t want to hit, but about keeping fingers clear of moving parts.
Growing up with that gun I had plenty of opportunities to hunt quail and dove with other hunters. In spite of the fact my gun was a full choke instead of the preferred improved cylinder or modified chokes that were more appropriate for those birds, I did all right. The one adjustment I made was to shoot at birds a little further away than the other guys did. Their misses often wound up in my game bag. When I used my Model 12 as a quail gun, I could get off two or three rounds on a covey rise as quickly as my buddies could with their semi-automatic Brownings or Remingtons. The shotgun fired each time the action closed as long as the trigger remained depressed from the prior shot. By keeping the trigger depressed I could fire another round as fast as I could pump the action.
The Winchester Model 12 is a pump action, tube magazine shotgun with an internal hammer manufactured by Winchester from 1912 (hence the model name or number) until 2006, though all the production runs after 1964 were special runs. The Model 12 was designed by T.C. Johnson but used a sliding forearm to cycle the action that was passed down from one of John M. Browning’s earlier designs. That Browning design was Winchester’s Model 1897, a forerunner to the Model 12. The 1897 had an external hammer while the Model 12’s hammer is internal. Apparently, the Model 12 was expensive to produce that’s why it was discontinued. The Model 1200 and Model 1300 replacements were very similar in appearance and operation, but designed to use parts that were less expensive to make.
When the Model 12 was first manufactured it was in 20 gauge only. The 12 and 16 gauge models followed a year later. The tube magazine is loaded from the bottom and empty shells are ejected from the right side. The magazine holds five rounds, but most hunters, myself included, have a round wooden rod in the magazine to limit the gun to the three-shot limit required by game laws for hunting migratory birds.
The Model 12 is a takedown model, easily separated into two halves for packing and transport. The takedown procedure is simple. There is a pin near the end of the magazine that locks it in place with the pin against the barrel. Simply push the pin through the magazine tube to a different angle that allows you to rotate the magazine a half turn and pull it loose. When the magazine has cleared the threads and base that keeps it in, the barrel rotates a half turn and slips out. The first time you try it, you might be a little uneasy, but after you’ve done it a few times it becomes easy peasy for you. I always took mine down like this for cleaning as it makes it easier to run a rod through the barrel from the chamber to the muzzle.
The US Military used the Model 12 extensively during World War I, World War II, Korea, and in the early part of the Vietnam War. More than 80,000 Model 12 shotguns were purchased during World War II by the United States Marine Corps, Army Air Forces, and Navy, mostly for use in the Pacific theater. The Marine Corps used a trench gun version of the Model 12 when taking Japanese-occupied islands in the Pacific. During the Korean War and the Vietnam war both the Marines and the US Army used the Model 12. It was only when Model 12 production was shut down in 1964 that the military started buying the Ithaca 37 shotgun for combat use. I was actually offered a Model 12 and 100 rounds of buckshot for my own use shortly after arriving in Vietnam by a departing pilot who didn’t wish to take it home. Before actually giving it to me he told me there was an Army Special Forces advisor that could make better use of the shotgun that I could and he wound up giving the shotgun to him and he gave me an M2 Carbine instead.
My 70 plus year old Model 12 seems to operate more smoothly than my relatively new Model 1300. I’m not sure if that’s a difference in manufacturing and parts or simply the fact it is well broken in. I know it carries a lifetime of memories for me. I promised to tell you about the deer I killed with it. I’m sure the statute of limitations has long passed for this particular incident. I was squirrel hunting with a friend in the Holly Springs National Forest. Our mission for the day was to check out a squirrel dog he was thinking of purchasing. Well, the dog ran off and we heard a ruckus that didn’t sound so much like a tree’d squirrel as it did the dog fighting with something. We ran toward the noise and topped a hill to see the dog had a doe by the hind leg. Just as we got to where we could see what was happening, the deer shook her leg free and ran up the hill right toward me. I had my shotgun in my right hand and without really thinking about it I brought it up and shot the deer in the chest before she could run me over. She dropped in her tracks. My best guess now is the gun was loaded with number 7 ½ or number 8 High Velocity shells. I Without really discussing the legalities of the situation my buddy and I decided that deer meat would taste just as good as if had been shot in season. We took her to his barn and dressed her, splitting the meat between us. Fortunately, we already had some deer meat in the freezer at home that I could mix it with so my Dad wouldn’t be all over me about a deer shot out of season.
The Model 12 is a fine, reliable shotgun that is very much the equal of Remington’s 870 pump. Mine got replaced as my quail gun when I inherited my other grandfather’s Lefever 12 gauge double barrel, but I still used the Model 12 for squirrel, dove and the occasional duck. Oh, and skeet.
Around age 14 I began working part time jobs after school and during the summer. It didn’t take me long to start gathering the tools to be a man. Chief among them was a mildly customized F1 Ford pickup and a .22 revolver. I bought the revolver at the local Western Auto store, paying something just shy of $50 for it. The gun was a High Standard Double Nine. High Standard was known at the time for it’s semi-automatic .22 that was used in competition. There was another revolver built more along the lines of a Smith & Wesson called the Sentinel and folks said the Sentinel was every bit as good as one of the more expensive revolvers from Smith & Wesson or Ruger. The Double Nine was a cowboy version of the Sentinel. It looked like a Colt Single Action Army, but the cylinder swung out for loading, and it was a double-action revolver rather than single action. Sort of the best of both worlds.
I used my Double Nine for plinkin’ and impressing the girls I dated by taking them shooting and I occasionally used it to bag a squirrel or a rabbit. I loved that gun, but apparently not enough to keep me from trading it to a friend for a stereo. My rationing was he was a close enough friend I’d still have access to the gun when I wanted to shoot it. But a few weeks after the trade, my friend told me it was really his mother’s stereo he had traded to me and she wanted it back. Naturally, I was willing to reverse the trade, but my friend confessed he had sold the gun to somebody who didn’t want to give it back. I returned the stereo but was without my Double Nine.
I went through the rest of my youth without getting a replacement, but I missed it enough that when I got into the gun business with my friend Jerry Colliver, Jerry found me a replacement. This time it wasn’t a $50 purchase, but $300 got me a nice Double Nine still in its original box. That box has the original price sticker on it—$64.95, indicating it was originally purchased about the same time I bought my first Double Nine.
I’ve got .22 revolvers from Heritage, Ruger and Uberti, but I gravitate to the Double Nine for my own shooting enjoyment. Let the kids and grandkids enjoy the other guns, the High Standard has a special place in my shooter’s heart. It’s not better than the other guns, though it is a little easier to load and unload. I just have a lot of pleasant memories associated with the Double Nine.
My gun is a model W-104 with a 4.5″ barrel. It’s currently wearing staghorn grips, but I also have a set of black grips and a set of faux pearl grips, both made specifically for the Double Nine by Jay Scott Custom Grips. The cylinder has drag marks made by the bolt as the cylinder rotates. I’m told that’s typical of these guns. Other than those markings, which I touch up from time-to-time with Birchwood Casey Aluminum Black, the gun shows no signs of abuse or wear. The frame and cylinder are made of an aluminum alloy.
Loading the gun is very easy. Beneath the barrel there is a small tab that on single action revolvers would be connected to the rod used to push empty shell casings out of the cylinder. This tab only moves a half an inch or so and is used to release the cylinder, which opens like the cylinder on a typical double action revolver. You can load the gun with shorts, longs or long rifles, mixed and matched at your pleasure. After firing, simply open the cylinder again press the cylinder pin to eject the empty shells, or any cartridges that have not been fired.
The double action trigger pull exceeds the 12 lb. limit of my Lyman trigger pull gauge, but it works in a way I appreciate. There is no slack to speak of and the trigger starts stacking immediately. If you’re pulling it slowly, it’s easy to stop at the wall just before the break and recheck sight alignment before pulling through. If you want to simply pull the trigger without paying attention to the break, you can and it feels smooth all the way through. In fact, you can empty the gun in short order just by aggressively pulling the trigger repeatedly until the bang turns into a click.
It’s easier to be more accurate with single-action shooting, at least for me. Cocking the gun sets the trigger to the rear where an easy 4 lbs. of pressure fires the gun. The sights are better than those found on a lot of cowboy guns in that there is a notched rear sight that sets above the top strap. The front sight is a blade that is 1/4″ high. The rear sight is well above the hammer when the hammer is down, so it works just as well in the double-action mode as in single-action.
I realized when thinking about my early days with the Double Nine I shot it one-handed. My examples of how to handle a gun in those days were on-screen heroes such as Roy Rogers, Gene Autrey, The Lone Ranger, Hop-a-long Cassidy and the Cisco Kid and they all shot their six shooters one handed. It wasn’t until I started taking handgun instruction on the way to becoming an instructor myself that I ever knew any better. When I shot my Double nine for this article, I reverted to the one-handed shooting I’d done with it early on and was pleased with the results. I didn’t try to shoot any long-range targets but shooting at five to seven yards I could put all nine rounds in a 5″ circle consistently. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a misfire. I sometimes shoot shorts, sometimes longs and sometimes long rifles, just depending on what I have on hand when I go shooting.
The High Standard company was founded by Swedish immigrant Carl Gustav Swebilius who got his start in the gun business by working for Marlin as a machinist and later a gun designer. He also spent a little time at Winchester before starting High Standard Manufacturing to make parts for other gunmakers. He borrowed some money from friends to by the assets of the Hartford Firearms company. Between selling Hartford pistols and improving upon them the High Standard became a manufacturing company. It’s interesting the moniker attached to the company was always High Standard, yet the firearms were always branded as Hi Standard. Hi Standard semi-automatics were sought after for competition and the revolvers found their place in the market as reasonably priced .22s suitable for teaching kids to shoot, keeping varmints away from the chickens and vegetable garden on the farm and just general fun shooting. The company operated several buildings in and around Harford, Connecticut and seemed at times to be doing quite well. They even supplied parts for US armed forces during WWII.
In 1968, the company was sold to an investment company called The Leisure Group. In 1978 the company was purchased by its managers but was soon in financial trouble and its assets were auctioned off. One of the primary parts distributors for the company bought some of the parts lines and the trademarks. In early 1993 a new company was formed in Texas to acquire the trademarks and .22 pistol line. The assets, including tooling, were moved to Houston in July of 1993 and the first of the Houston made guns shipped in March of 1994. The Texas company closed its doors in 2018.
Many collectors have realized the value of these firearms and prices have held steady. My particular model is listed in the Blue Book of Gun Values as being worth $450–$500. I’m glad to know I didn’t overpay for it and I’m pleased I’ll be able to pass it along to some lucky member of my family when I can no longer pull a trigger.